Focused Golf – A Whole Approach

Staying focused for 18 holes of golf is challenging. Remaining in the now, experiencing every moment and concentrating for long periods of time tests the mental fortitude of any athlete. Golf is doubly challenging because of the short periods of focused concentration mixed with long periods of walking. Losing focus during a round is extremely easy because of the multitude of distractions on a golf course. Whether it is birds chirping, a deer walking in the fairway, a train going by, an aircraft flying over head or that annoying playing partner, the demands on any players attention seems endless.

Staying focused while golfing!

Staying focused while golfing!

Staying focused for 18 holes of golf is possible. A quick search reveals that many experts have suggestions and methods to hone your focus. They are all good resources and are a great place to start if a player is trying to understand how focus affects their golf game. After years of trying various methods to improve my focus, I developed a 3 steps process that incorporates a whole approach to focused golf.

Staying focused for 18 holes of golf is achievable. To stay in ‘the zone’ for 4 hours is a skill that all golfers have to develop to lower their golf score. This, like many other aspects of golf, is a process. It is a methodology that requires attention, tuning, and execution. The primary tenant for my method is based on positive intent. During each step, it is important to actively decided to focus on all aspects of playing golf better. To play your best and stay focused for 18 holes, I recommend using my proven 3 step approach which will provide the results all golfers want – lower golf scores!

Adopting my 3 step approach will improve your focus and concentration while on the links. This approach is simple, easy to learn, and adjustable. Do not be surprised when you realize that not all my techniques are focused just on swinging a golf club. It is a whole approach to focused golf. If you are feeling adventurous, give it a try; the results might be surprising!

Step 1: Preparation before playing

Start hydrating at least 2 hours before playing. Drink small sips of water every 10 – 15 minutes. Hydrating prior to a match will make sure every player has the energy to complete the round without feeling fatigued in the home stretch.

Visualizing your round. It takes about 10-15 minutes of focused visualization of swinging the club properly. Visualizing the ball going into the hole. And visualizing writing par on your scorecard. Visualizing is an important step to staying focused for 18 holes of golf.

Hit the range and putting green for at least 20 minutes before teeing off on the first hole. Warming up your body before you ‘grip it and rip it’ is a great idea because it allows you to focus on non-swing related aspects of playing golf.

Step 2: Playing 18 holes of Golf

Stay hydrated during the entire round. Continue taking sips of water at every tee. The hotter the weather, the more water you will need to drink.

Eat snacks every 3 holes. Having a piece of fruit, some nuts, or a half of a sandwich will suffice. Eating will keep your physical energy strong and as a direct result, keep you mentally strong for 4 hours.

Have a pre-shot routine. A pre-shot routine will signal your mind that it is time to focus on the shot at hand. A solid pre-shot routine will eliminate all distractions, supports the logic of selecting the right shot, and reduces the pressure of thinking of your shot mechanics.

Enjoy the time between shots. Staying positive throughout your game is critical. Not all shots will be as expected and how we react to these tough times will help shape the rest of the round. Personally, I like to chat a bit with my playing partners, hum a song that lifts my spirits and relishing my beautiful surroundings helps keep me focused on the moment.

Step 3: After your round

When the last ball is holed out on the 18th green, shake hands with your playing partners. Remove your hat (if you have one on) and look them in the eyes. By focusing on them one last time will help prepare you for playing against strangers.

Visualize the round you just played. Go over your round and focus on the positive aspects of your game. If you made an awesome sand save, try to focus on how you swung the club, the sound of the club hitting the sand, where the club contacted the sand and where the ball finished.

Start to focus on your next round. Focusing on the next round will slowly build up the positive energy and mentally strengthen your golf game. This is a mild form of visualization.

Staying focused on 18 holes of golf is more than just playing golf! A whole approach to playing a round will improve your focus during the 4 hours of pressure golf. Being physically prepared is as important as being mentally prepared if you want to lower your golf score. I used the above method extensively this year and I found my focus during my rounds significantly improved. As well, it helped me reach one of my goals of playing to my lowest handicap ever – 2.8.

I am a grateful golfer! Stay focused and I will see you on the links.




Golf Strategy: 2-Man Scramble

2-man Scramble

Helping Align Putts in a 2-Man Scramble is legal!

Golf is a great game for strategy, gamesmanship, and psyching out your opponent! One of my favorite tournament formats is the 2-man scramble. The format places just enough pressure on players to perform, but offers that little glimmer of hope if your game comes off the rails for a hole or two. This weekend I am playing in a 2-man scramble tournament with my friend Jean.

Roundel Glen Golf Course is closing this year’s golf season with a series of fun tournaments. This is the first of several that will help reduce the anxiety of golf season slowly coming to an end. The rules for this tournament are pretty simple. The handicap of the two players is added together, divided by two and multiplied by 75%.

What this means is: my handicap is 3.1, Jean’s handicap is 10.4, combined 13.5, divided by 2 is 6.75, multiplied by 75% is 5. Therefore, our handicap for this tournament is 5. For those non golfers, this means we are awarded one stroke on the 5 toughest holes on the course. So if we shoot a 4 on the toughest hole, we would record a 3 on our scorecard. This method of using your handicap is golf’s way of leveling the playing field. If everyone is honest, the system works very well.

This Sunday Jean and I tee it up at 9 am. This tournament will be very interesting because Jean and I have complimenting games. We both hit the ball well off the tee. He hits his long irons better than me. I hit my short irons better than him and we both chip and putt well.

Unlike the strategy in a 4-man scramble where the more novice players shoots first all the time, Jean and I are of relatively equal skill. The strategy is a bit different and depending on how we decide to play the round, the difference could be a couple of strokes. In a 2-man scramble, those two strokes could be the difference between winning and losing. So here is what I am proposing as our strategy for the tournament:

  1. Jean tees off first on all par 5s and short par 3s.
  2. Jim tees off first on all par 4s and long par 3s.
  3. Jean is first to hit our second shot inside 175 yards.
  4. Jim is first to hit our second shot outside of 175 yards.
  5. Jean chips first by all green.
  6. Jean putts first on all greens.

My logic is simple: the first player always ensures he is in play and by doing so leverages the stronger skills of the other player!

I do not believe that our strategy needs to be any more complicated than that. I am, however, looking for comments if any of you golfing fanatics see a flaw in my logic. If you do, I am all ears! Feedback is always welcome!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Day 2 of The Qualifying Tournament

Jim FinishWednesday I play in day 2 of the military qualifying tournament.  My last round was a grind and I was fortunate enough to shoot an 81, which was good enough for third place. After finishing the first round with a birdie, I have earned a place in the first group of low players.

As part of my preparation, I have played tomorrows round over and over in my mind. Each hole ended in a par or birdie and my final score was a 66. Some would scoff at my attempts to stay positive and to visualize a sub-par round, but I believe it is important to my success in any golfing event.

To stay with my theme of a golf handicap, it will play an important role in tomorrow’s round. Most people have difficulty shooting their handicap in tournaments and I believe that if I stay true to form I will make the team of 5 that will move forward to the next event.

What do you think? Do you normally shoot your handicap in tournaments?

I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!


What’s Your Handicap?

Before you say your driver or 60 degree wedge, this is a valid question that most golfers overlook. This question popped up at work today and I thought it would make for an interesting topic.

2012 CN Future Links Western - Golf CanadaHere is what Golf Canada has to say:

The purpose of the Golf Canada Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable for golfers by providing a means of measuring one’s performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.

Through this system, each golfer establishes an “Golf Canada Handicap Factor” which is a numerical measurement of a player’s potential (not actual) scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty.

The Handicap Factor is calculated using the best 10 of the player’s last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Factor travels with the golfer from course to course and is adjusted up or down depending on the length and difficulty of the course played, resulting in a “Course Handicap”. The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees at the course played and represents the number of strokes he would require to play equitably against a “scratch” golfer (a golfer with a Handicap Factor of “0.0′). The more difficult the golf course, the more strokes the golfer receives and vice versa.

The real question dealt with what we considered to be a low, medium and high handicap. My friend suggested anyone with a 20+ score and I said 10+. Immediately we looked at each other and realized that something was amiss.

At they suggest:

  • Low: Handicaps 8 and under (typically shooting in 70’s)
  • Mid: Handicaps 9-24 (low 80’s to mid 90’s)
  • High: Handicaps 25+ (high-90’s and up)

At, they suggest:

  • Low: Handicaps 9 and under (typically shooting in 70’s)
  • Mid: Handicaps 10-18 (low 80’s to mid 90’s)
  • High: Handicaps 19+ (high-90’s and up)

The last bit of information that is important is the average handicap for men and women. After checking many sites, the consensus is that the average male golfer has a handicap of 16.1 and the average female has a handicap of 28.9. So using this information, most golfers would be considered medium handicap players. Additionally, the definition of low, medium, and high handicap does vary, but the reasons for establishing a handicap do not.

To enter in some tournaments, handicaps are used to place players in flights against others of their own caliber. It is also used to calculate foursome handicaps for “Scramble” tournaments. And lastly, it determines how many strokes a higher handicap player will receive in a match-play event. Most players do not have an official handicap and for the most part it really does not matter.

Personally, I am a member of the Golf Association of Ontario. My handicap index is 5.4 or a 5 handicap with a scoring average of 79.2 over 20 games. For the golfer who plays many rounds a year, establishing a handicap is a good thing. It is part of the game and helps promote an often overlooked aspect of golf – fair play.

Do you have an official handicap?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!